Monthly Archives: February 2019

The 2019 Thermostat ReThink

Back in 2017 I wrote a blog entry called “A Thermostat Weekend” – some weekend that turned out to be. Well, to cut a long story short, the stat worked but I was at the time just finding out all about NEST and other modern stats and so my ESP-GO/Node-Red thermostat development started gathering dust.

Then we fitted a new Air Source Heat Pump heating system and it looked like my thermostat skills might be redundant. This new system came with a Salus IT 5000 Thermostat – absolutely lovely App, nice display and this I thought would well and truly bury my interest. How wrong could I be.

Stat web interface

Here is the latest version of my stat web display (Dashboard) – I removed the redundant FROST setting and improved the formatting today (29/02/2019). More soon no doubt.

I found some issues with the original QDTECH 240*160 LCD display in terms of reset reliability bearing in mind I’m short of IO pins and reset is hooked to processor reset (I just realised that I can use GPIO0 as an output with a new command, to reset the display) and I’ve changed to an ILI9341 for the final version as well as fixing some bugs with AWAY timing, VASTLY improving the web stat (Dashboard) css and adding multi-functions to the two available inputs – so that “up” and “down become “auto” if pressed simultaneously OR if either of the two buttons are long-pressed. I've done this extra functionality in Node-Red. The larger display also shows full time, day and date as well as “away” status. Also not yet shown here but in one unit I'm using cheap single-key touch panels for manual heat up and down.

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EleksMaker Pro Laser Engraver

Update February 28, 2019
Last year year I put together this excellent A3 laser engraving machine. Originally, a 500mW laser module arrived complete with its own power supply (the laser which was not included in the basic kit). It turns out that was the wrong laser and now I have the 2300mW violet laser complete with upgraded 2.5A power supply. In the photo you also see the (important) green protective glasses that came with the kit.

Cutting door signs with Eleksmaker

Continue reading EleksMaker Pro Laser Engraver

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Digital Mini Inclinometer

InclinometerAnother item in the post this morning – for when the old fashioned inclinometer will no longer do – how about one powered by a pair of AAA batteries… this one came complete with full English instructions from GearBest.

A neat little gadget, the “Mini Digital Protractor Inclinometer Angle Gauge” is around £12.40 (free shipping)  and while not something most of us would use every day, is a lot more convenient than my old spirit inclinometer and probably more accurate. I end up using such tools pretty much on a once-a-week basis.

Here’s the link: https://goo.gl/sBVWVT

Resolution 0.05 degree, accuracy +-0.2 degrees, repeatability 0.1 degree.

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Bosch Go Professional Screwdriver

Today in the post I received a Bosch Go Professional Screwdriver from GearBest.

Here’s the link: https://goo.gl/3FD61q

Every word of the manual was in Chinese – but thanks to Google I immediately found the multilingual pdf manual online complete with a comprehensive English section.

Bosch Go Screwdriver

As it turns out, the manual isn’t really needed, well, I didn’t need it anyway. Plug the screwdriver into any USB power unit  (or any handy USB supply) - with the lead supplied – (that’s what I did) and lo, a short time later, one fully charged screwdriver. Of course it was probably most of the way there before I started.

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BackLit Keyboard Issues

No, not a review, yet… but I can see that coming. This is about PC backlit keyboards and the problems you can have with both cheap and expensive versions.

keyboard adsMy first gripe is the number of sellers on the web who claim to be UK based, then what you get is the US-based keyboard (hash where the POUND symbol should be and other keys out of place).

That narrows your choice down a little – the next item is just as important.

It seems that despite the optimised (often pained in) photos in the ads, that some keyboards (including both of my current keyboards) use one LED per key despite having say, numbers and symbols  either alongside or above-below… and not enough light for both. Colour-sequencing is all very nice for a gimmick but after the novelty wears off and you get down to some solid typing, often at an angle to the keyboard and with less tmp6BE0than ideal background light, you’d be better off with normal white key-tops than some of the pretty backlighting out there. On one of my keyboards, the numbers (not the number keypad) are just fine but the symbols above them are all but un-readable. Similarly with the function keys.

I’ve shown one of my keyboards in the second photo here as an example – virtually no backlighting on the “ins”,”Del” and other symbols. The first photo is a typical ad with all keys brightly lit.

Finally three other points worth mentioning: make sure you get a mechanical keyboard (the cheap ones without springs are truly awful) and check for real injection-moulded keys, not just paint around letters, symbols and numbers as the latter will wear away on frequently used keys in no time. Those wonderful colour combinations are great for a gimmick but do they include the option to go for one colour for all keys (like a nice red or green)… neither of my keyboards do, so watch out for that one.

If anyone has already been through this, comments are most welcome.

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BigTimer and getMoonTimes

I just spent ages debugging issue with theSunCalc module used in Node-Red-Contrib--BigTimer.

It turns out that the getMoonTimes module doesn’t seem to handle the alwaysUp and alwaysDown methods the way one might expected – these do not return FALSE  if not TRUE – they return undefined – that took some figuring out.

I started with try-catch but that failed also. Simply checking as follows did the trick:

if (typeof moons.rise==='undefined')
moonrise=1440;
else
{
date2=moons.rise; moonrise = (date2.getHours() * 60) +
date2.getMinutes();
}              

if (typeof moons.set==='undefined')
moonset=0;
else
{
date3=moons.set; moonset = (date3.getHours() * 60) +
date3.getMinutes();
}           

I’m pretty sure this is now fixed as of BigTimer 2.1.7

Thanks to Aidan Ruff for his help in this one.

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A good day for Alexa

Today was a good day (well, apart from the UK Northeast weather which was rubbish as it has been all year so far.  Thanks to some great help from guys on discordapp.com I discovered a cure for a phantom subnet issue that has had me worried for days now. I also found a fix to make my new Amazon Dot version 3 units work in Node-Red without being the dreaded ROOT user… so let’s get started… this blog entry is really just a record for me and a catch up for any of the guys who were helping out…

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Devices recently connected to the network

Can I give the Raspberry Pi any MORE to do? This started off as a plea for help – as I could not find a way to get reliable reporting of changed devices on my network – as you’ll see, now CRACKED thanks to readers and in particular Mr Shark.

I’ve tried Glasswire on PC, Nmap on Pi and Advanced IP scanner on PC… the latter detects devices like ESP8266 on the network no problem – but could I HELL find a way to show JUST devices connected since the last scan.

Continue reading Devices recently connected to the network

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